In a historic decision that could lead to greater rights for Hong Kong’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, the territory’s high court has ruled that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate should be granted a spousal visa.
The Court of Final Appeal ruled Wednesday that the woman, identified in court papers only by the initials QT, should be issued a visa that would grant her resident status and allowed her to work in the Chinese-held territory, which maintains a high degree of autonomy, including an independent judiciary.
QT and her partner entered into a same-sex civil partnership in Britain in 2011, but was only granted a visitor’s visa when the couple moved to Hong Kong later that year, which prevented QT from working.
The court said in its ruling that the government’s policy of rejecting same-sex partners was counter-productive and amounted to “indirect discrimination.”
QT’s effort was supported by dozens of top financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
Although same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Hong Kong, recent opinion surveys show support for the institution have been steadily rising.